Officials look to take next step with schoolhouse project

A memorial brick to commemorate Beacon Falls’ 150th anniversary is held by Parks and Recreation Commission Steven Ruhl in front of land on North Main Street that will be the new home of the Rimmon Schoolhouse. -KATE MINUTILLO

BEACON FALLS — Town officials are ready for the next step in a project to preserve an historic schoolhouse.

In July, state lawmakers approved a bill that transfers a 0.125-acre, state-owned parcel adjacent to the intersection of North Main Street and Church Street to the town. The land will be used as the new site for the Rimmon Schoolhouse, which was built sometime between 1779 and 1830. Nadeem and Naila Khalid own the land where the schoolhouse is on Pinesbridge Road and have offered to donate the schoolhouse to the town.

Now that the land on North Main Street has been transferred to the town, the land will be surveyed to ensure it meets state requirements, said Steven Ruhl, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

The property at the end of North Main Street is ideal for the schoolhouse due to its proximity to the Beacon Falls Police Department, said Ruhl, who is also the town historian. He hopes the location will deter vandalism.

Ruhl said moving the schoolhouse will rely heavily on volunteers. The next step is to partner with contractors who have volunteered to help with the project. He said contractors, electricians and landscapers have reached out in response to an announcement of the move on Facebook.

Ruhl said officials are also looking into state grants that are available under historical preservation for the project.

Ruhl said officials will consult contractors to determine the best way to physically transfer the structure, and he hopes to repurpose what cannot be saved in the move. The floor and roof of the schoolhouse are not salvageable and will be replaced once the walls are relocated.

There isn’t a specific timeline yet for relocating the schoolhouse. Ruhl hopes the project will be completed by the town’s 150th anniversary, which will be celebrated June 30, 2021, to align with festivities to mark the anniversary.

The Rimmon Schoolhouse on Pinesbridge Road in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

The Beacon Falls Historical Society is planning to sell commemorative bricks as a fundraiser for the town’s anniversary, and the bricks are likely to be incorporated into the new site for the schoolhouse.

Ruhl said he is looking forward to coordinating with First Selectman Christopher Bielik and Selectman Michael Krenesky, who is president of the historical society, to form a committee and put a plan in place.

Bielik thanked state Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-105th District, and state Sen. George Logan, R-17th, for their help in getting the land transferred.

Logan said in a news release, “I want to thank everyone who worked together to help support our town in preserving this local piece of history. I am glad the state recognized our need and the importance of this land conveyance to move this project forward.”

Bielik said he hopes the schoolhouse can provide a glimpse of the town’s roots for long-standing residents and newcomers alike. He said the project is important to maintain the connection to the town’s history while still looking forward to the town’s future.